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For Immediate Release
March 25, 2019
Jennifer Savage, Surfrider Foundation, 707-267-8458,
Susan Jordan, California Coastal Protection Network, 805-637-3037, firstname.lastname@example.org
Coastal conservation report card shows progress protecting public beach access
Sacramento, Calif. – Today, ActCoastal, the California Coast Accountability Project, released the 2018 California Coastal Commission Conservation Report Card. This annual report card monitors the performance of the California Coastal Commission, the state’s most powerful land use agency, by tracking conservation votes cast by individual commissioners.
The 2018 Conservation Report Card indicates the Commission is increasingly voting in support of coastal protection and access, as rising seas and increased development pressure are threatening the state’s beloved beaches from both sides. The average conservation score for 2018 was 88%, up from 71% in 2017, and 65% in 2016. The report card is based on the monthly voting charts found at ActCoastal and focuses on high-stakes coastal development projects that often pit the interests of coastal developers – who employ experienced and politically-connected lobbyists – against the concerns of ordinary Californians.
“We created ActCoastal to help the public understand the issues affecting California’s coast. This report card allows Californians to track how well the Coastal Commission is protecting their rights against the relentless development pressure facing our bluffs and beaches,” said Jennifer Savage of Surfrider Foundation. “With sea levels rising, the commission’s role defending public beach access is growing more important – and more difficult – by the year.”
One of the focal issues for this year’s report card is coastal armoring, the construction of sea walls and other hard structures designed to protect beachfront homes. While these structures can protect private property, they also result in the loss of public beachfront by accelerating erosion. Of seven votes cast in 2018, six prioritized coastal preservation and access, including a high profile decision to require removal of an illegal seawall in Laguna Beach. The one pro-development vote was a decision to certify a San Clemente coastal plan that defines “existing development” entitled to coastal armoring as any structures complete at the time the plan was adopted (the Coastal Act defines “existing development” as buildings constructed before 1976.) This difference could lead to more seawalls and beach loss in San Clemente.
The report card also looks at the Commission’s role in facilitating public access at Hollister Ranch, a private development that has 8.5 miles of coastline currently closed to non-residents. The Commission is working with the State Lands Commission, the State Coastal Conservancy and California State Parks to update and implement a public access plan, and has appealed three development permits based on inconsistencies with the state’s coastal access requirements.
“Hollister Ranch shows just how vital the Coastal Commission’s role in reviewing and enforcing development permits is in delivering on California’s promise of public beach access,” said Susan Jordan. “Somehow, this private subdivision has avoided complying with California coastal access laws for decades, and now, thanks to pressure from public interest groups, the Commission is working to change that.”
Finally, the report highlights the Coastal Commission’s role in supporting women’s participation in the Maverick’s Surf Contest, which is now required to have multiple heats and equitable prize money for women, based on input from Commissioners, San Mateo County Harbor District, the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing, and others. In addition to inviting women into the conference for the first time ever, World Surf League promised to pay male and female contest winners the same in their contests around the world.
The full 2018 Conservation Report Card is available online at http://www.actcoastal.org/wiki/images/9/9a/ActCoastal_Report_Card_2019a.pdf. For more information about the Coastal Commission’s record on conservation, visit ActCoastal.org.
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